Articles Posted in construction accidents

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In 2008, a new high school was being built in Reading, Pennsylvania. Perrotto was the general contractor on the project and Reigel was hired to procure and install the structural steel for the building. Ralph Ferraro, an employee of Riegel was working with two other men in a five story, stairway tower. He was standing on a lift platform installing steel and when he attempted to secure a 300 pound piece, he lost his balance and fell 30 feet. He filed suit for his injuries against Perrotto and Turner, the lift company. Perrotto filed and was granted a request to bring Riegel into the suit. Perrotto claimed that in accordance with their subcontractor agreement, Riegel is required to defend, indemnify and hold harmless, Perrotto.

Reigel agreed that under the agreement they would have to take the fall if they or their employees were negligent, but argued that they were not required to indemnify Perrotto if Perrotto was negligent. Perrotto settled the matter with Ralph and is now seeking for Reigel to indemnify, or cover the settlement costs.

In order for a business, which has settled a case for personal injuries to recover the costs of the settlement from someone they have an indemnity contract with, they must demonstrate that the underlying claim against them was valid, that settlement was reasonable and that any attorneys fees were reasonable. Otherwise they would just settle the matter regardless of fault and seek payment from the other party.

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I was alarmed, as a Philadelphia injury lawyer, to learn that a Salvation Army thrift store in Philadelphia’s Center City collapsed today while it was full of employees and shoppers. According to Philly.com, the demolition of a building next door to the Salvation Army store on Market Street caused the store’s own building to partially collapse, trapping an unknown number of people in the rubble. At least 13 people were pulled from the store by rescuers by the early afternoon of June 5, and taken to a variety of hospitals with injuries that were largely or entirely minor. Law enforcement and city officials had not confirmed reports that one or two others have died. Speakers at a 2:30 p.m. press conference said there would be active searching for 12 to 24 more hours, and that they weren’t sure how many people could be left inside.

The building being demolished was a condemned four-story commercial building in an area that had long been considered blighted. The Philly.com article reported that witnesses heard a loud moaning “like a freight train” around 10:45 a.m., then saw one side of the building fall onto the Salvation Army store next door, partially collapsing it. Philly.com reported that the building under demolition shared a back wall with an apartment building, which also went down. People on the street outside reportedly were knocked off their feet, or ran across the street as the air filled with dust and debris. Some witnesses said that at first they feared the collapse was an act of terrorism, leading the police to reassure residents that this appears to be an industrial accident. Some witnesses were very upset; others rushed in to pull victims out of the building before firefighters could arrive.

Right now, even the newspaper has a lot of unanswered questions. But as a Philadelphia personal injury lawyer, I know a lot will depend on the answers to those questions. All of the people who were injured or lost property in this accident will be looking for someone to hold accountable, and that might be the subcontractor handling the demolition, the architect who hired them, individuals working for those businesses or some combination thereof. Sifting through all of these parties, and their insurance companies, will take time and care even for an experienced Philadelphia accident lawyer. Because any such lawsuit would also involve serious injuries that will be difficult to properly explain and value, it’s absolutely vital for victims and their families to have an experienced attorney on their sides.
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Three months ago, federal Judge Judith Fitzgerald requested post-trial briefs for a Delaware asbestos case. Pending her ruling, the case appears to still be mired in the mud of decision making.

Fitzgerald spends her time as a United States bankruptcy judge in Pennsylvania’s Western District and Delaware. Back in the second week of January she held an estimation trial that lasted a week. The trial was supposed to reduce the gap between the amount that the case’s debtors (Bondex International, RPM International and Specialty Products Holding Corp.) believe they owe any future asbestos victims who file a claim and the amount future claimants assert that the bankrupt companies should pay them.

Prior to filing for bankruptcy, the debtors were asbestos defendants in the tort system. Their bankruptcy filing stops civil litigation and forces them to establish a trust fund to compensate future claimants. From January 7 to January 11, attorneys for the debtors and those representing the Official Committee of Asbestos Personal Injury Claimants pleaded their case to Fitzgerald in her 52nd floor courtroom in a Pittsburgh commercial tower. However, the case seems to be in limbo as the concerned parties await Fitzgerald’s ruling, which is expected before she retires on May 31.

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As a Philadelphia injury lawyer, I was interested to see a Third Circuit decision that could change how federal courts in Pennsylvania determine jurisdiction in personal injury cases involving more than one state. In Washington v. Hovensa LLC, Gloria Washington sued Hovensa and Triangle Construction and Maintenance, Inc., after Triangle employees working on Hovensa property in the Virgin Islands injured her. Washington owned a home in Texas but was back in the islands for work. The district court dismissed her suit for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction, saying she was properly a Virgin Islands resident, not a Texas resident. The Third reversed that and remanded it, saying the district court did not give enough weight to her intent to return to Texas.

Washington worked for Sabine Storage Operations, a Texas company that sent her to the islands to work as a pipe inspector for an indefinite period of time. She had been born in St. Croix and had family in the islands, who she saw regularly while she was there. She owned a home in Baytown, Texas and had rented an apartment in the islands. She had not returned to Texas for several months before she drove onto Hovensa’s property, where she was assigned to work at a Hovensa refinery. She drove her rental car past a site where Triangle employees were conducting sandblasts that she said were improperly supervised and used faulty equipment. She sued Triangle and Hovensa in Virgin Islands federal court, based on diversity of citizenship. The defendants moved to dismiss for lack of diversity, arguing that Washington was a VI citizen, not a Texas citizen. The district court granted this, overriding an affidavit by Washington stating her intent to return to Texas. Washington appealed, repeating her intent to return to Texas when the assignment was over.

The Third Circuit started by noting that caselaw requires courts to presume in favor of an old domicile over a new one, although the person seeking diversity (in this case, Washington) still has the burden of proof. It’s not clear that the district court took that into account, the Third said, despite the list of facts weighing in favor of finding that Washington lived in Texas: home ownership, driver’s license, doctor, vehicle registration, mobile phone and bank account. The Third acknowledged that Washington’s affidavit was “self-serving,” in that it could easily have been engineered to give Washington the outcome she preferred. But it did not see why the district court relied on the Third Circuit’s own 1968 decision in Korn v. Korn, a decision that said affidavits must be disregarded as self-serving — but only when they are contradicted by inconsistent behavior. Because Washington’s behavior has not been inconsistent, it said, the district court was wrong to disregard her affidavit. It also wrongly disregarded certain evidence, the court noted. Thus, it reversed the district court and remanded the case.

This case is mostly about jurisdiction, not the injury to Washington, so one might wonder why a Philadelphia accident lawyer like me would be interested. As it happens, where a lawsuit is heard can make a big difference. In this case, because the Virgin Islands is a relatively small community, Washington might feel that her chances of objective treatment are better in the federal courts than in Islands courts, whose judges might socialize with business leaders from Hovensa and Triangle. Federal court might also be more advantageous if federal law offers causes of action or rules of court that state law does not have. When the connection is strong, as with Washington’s connection to Texas, this practice can offer injured people an opportunity to make the strongest case they can to hold the negligent party financially and legally accountable.
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When it comes to work injuries and accidents as well as occupational hazards, the coal miner has become a poster child. This week, the Philadelphia Inquirer went six miles deep to report from a coal mine in southwestern Pennsylvania, the kind of many Philadelphia residents and US citizens forget even exists. Pennsylvania is still quite the coal producer and was in fact the fourth largest U.S. coal producer in 2008.

Pennsylvania is at the forefront as coal, wind, and solar power battle it out to become the key energy industries of the future. In the mean time, several US workers in Pennsylvania and the surround states go to work as coal miners, power plant workers, solar panel and wind turbine builders, etc.

Today’s challenge of improving the coal industry and creating alternative energy sources, has put some US workers back to work, but it is important for us to remember the day to day occupational hazards the men and women in the coal and energy industry can face. While environmental and emissions regulations continue to be scrutinized, it is also important for us to remember our country’s energy workers and how we can keep them as safe as can be from work related accidents and occupational hazards.

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A gas and water main break at the 6900 block of Torresdale Avenue in Philadelphia occurred last night around 7.19 p.m. and turned out to cause much more destruction than ever expected. The leak caused a 50 foot tall fireball to explode resulting in a three alarm fire. The blast set fire to at least two homes and several cars including a PGW truck. The horrific incident, according to one witness, caused homes in the neighborhood to shake and sknocked a man over who was standing next to him.

Several firefighters were injured in last night’s gas explosion and sadly, the blast has left one 19 year old PGW worker dead. Several Philadelphia residents lost all of their belongings as a result of the leak and resulting fire and fire ball explosion. Those injured were treated at Torresdale Hospital. At least one victim was taken to the burn center having suffered serious burns. Fortunately several dozen residents as well as individuals who were working at nearby businesses were evacuated from the surround structures as soon as authorities were aware that the water main had been breached.

The cause of the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania gas explosion is still underway while several alarmed residents are wondering just who is responsible for this tragedy. Similar incidents have been linked to a gas company’s failure to accurately install, maintain, or replace gas mains. If you are the victim of this tragic accident or a similar accident in which you were injured, contact a Philadelphia injury lawyer or a Philadelphia accident lawyer right away.

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An accident on a Pottstown school rooftop has left one roofing worker dead while leaving another worker injured. The two men sustained their injuries while working at the Hill School at Chestnut and Sheridan streets at approximately 11 a.m. on the morning of November 1st. The two workers, whose names have not yet been released, were employed by Richard L. Sensenig Roofing and Industrial Metals of Ephrata according to reports.

As the two men began to perform routine maintenance on the building, the roof on top of the school’s power plant collapsed. Both workers fell through, leaving them trapped inside a confined space for hours. Eventually, company cranes were able to lift them out under the supervision of the Pottstown Fire Department. While unfortunately, one worker was deceased upon excavation, another worker was taken to a Reading area hospital according to reports with serious injuries.

It is an unfortunate reality that accidents like this happen every day as all occupations come with their own unique occupational hazards. If you have experienced the loss of a loved one through a similar accident, it is essential that you contact a Philadephia accident laywer to ensure that you are covered when it comes to receiving all that you are entitled to. If you have sustained an injury while working, ensure your rights are protected by contacting a Philadelphia injury lawyer.

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Two Pennsylvania natural gas workers suffered serious personal injures and were flown to Robert Packer Hospital in Sayre for treatment following a construction accident at a drilling site in northern Pennsylvania. One worker suffered broken ribs and the other suffered lacerations to his skull caused by a flying piece of metal when a pipe coupling blew apart at a Tioga County natural gas well operated by Ultra Resources. The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration is investigating.

This serious Pennsylvania construction accident comes on the heels of a natural gas well blowout in central Pennsylvania earlier this month. While, fortunately, no one was injured in that construction accident, explosive natural gas and toxic wastewater spewed into the air, polluting nearby land for 16 hours before EOG Resources workers could bring the blowout under control. Safety concerns sparked by the blowout caused Pennsylvania regulators to halt work at 70 other natural gas wells under construction by EOG Resources.

Natural gas drilling is an admittedly hazardous profession which makes adherence to safety standards and practices all that much more vitally important to protect the health and safety of construction workers. As recent incidents illustrate, construction workers face the risk of serious personal injury every time they step on the job site. Companies that fail to protect their workers’ safety can be held liable for workers’ injuries. Just a few of the many negligent activities that can contribute to Philadelphia construction accidents include:

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Last night’s Presidential message brought home the extreme danger and devastation possible when man drills into the Earth to tap its vast store of natural resources. Eleven BP workers lost their lives in the horrific Deepwater Horizon drill rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico. Recent news reports make it clear that those lives were put at risk by faulty and negligent safety practices at BP and abysmal oversight by federal regulators. While repercussions from the Gulf Coast tragedy will eventually reverberate here in Philadelphia, distance makes the suffering experienced on those distant shores feel remote. However, the threat of disaster exists closer to home than many Philadelphians would expect.

Tragedy in Philadelphia’s own backyard was narrowly averted last week when a blowout occured at a natural gas drilling site in rural western Pennsylvania. The construction accident 100 miles from Pittsburgh had the potential to create a massive explosion. While the drill site did not catch fire, the construction accident sent 35,000 of gallons of explosive natural gas and toxic drilling fluid shooting 75 feet into the air. It took EOG, a Huston-based drilling company, nearly 16 hours to repair the blowout and halt the flow.

A similar construction accident at a West Virginia natural gas drill site resulted in a fireball that injured seven workers last week; and an natural gas blowout at a Texas site killed one worker and hospitalized two workers with serious burns.

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New federal rules targeting lead paint dust highlight a serious personal injury threat for Philadelphia residents contemplating a home remodeling project. Beginning April 22, new Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rules will require that all contractors be certified and trained in safe methods for reducing job site dust. The new rules apply to any remodeling or construction job with the potential to release paint dust into the air. Training and new safety measures are expected to add $8 to $167 to the cost of interior remodeling projects, more for exterior jobs.

From window replacement to major projects like a room addition or kitchen rehab, most remodeling projects create large quantities of construction dust. In homes painted with lead paint, even if that paint has been covered over with lead-free paint, construction dust will include particles of lead from old paint. When breathed in, these lead particles can cause brain damage; behavioral, learning and growth difficulties; hearing problems; and headaches in still developing children. Lead dust can cause reproductive problems in adults, nerve disorders, muscle and joint pain, high blood pressure and memory loss. Although lead paint was outlawed in 1978, the EPA has linked many recent cases of lead poisoning personal injury to remodeling projects.

Nearly all Philadelphia homes built before 1940 (87%) were painted with lead paint. From 1940 to 1960 as newer paint formulas were developed, the EPA estimates that lead paint was used in 69% percent of homes. That figure dropped to 24% from 1961 to 1978 as the dangers of lead paint were discovered. Since its discontinuation in 1978 no U.S. homes have been contaminated with lead paint. However, particularly in older homes, the danger of serious personal injury persists when old paint is uncovered during remodeling.

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